The roots of IUMI, in its present form, can be traced to the later part of the 19th century, a time of continuous increase in the volume of international trade and consumption and of constantly improving communications. The transition from sail to steam was already under way, leading to a greater need for marine insurance, especially cargo insurance, both ocean and inland.
Until the mid-19th century, most marine insurance was placed in local markets. The developments in international trade and shipping, however, gave rise to more international transactions. New markets were emerging and there was a demand for uniformity in insurance cover, not least by banks and clients.